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Students bring baseballs, globes, and dish soap to life during writing workshop in Pittsburg, NH

February 20, 2012

Author and CLiF presenter David Martin works with a young reader.

Written by David Martin

Right off the bat I knew my residency in Pittsburg, NH was going to be fun. When I met the whole school at an introductory assembly and sang “Pop Your Lips,” my song that gives the kids a chance to move and be silly, the staff joined right in too.

After that, on the first day, all the classes, K-6, wrote true stories about themselves. Some were funny, some sad, some exciting, some about pets, and as usual, a number were tales of crashing bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and broken bones.

The next day I brought Rosie, a large stuffed polar bear, to meet the kindergarten and first graders, and they wrote stories about what they thought Rosie liked to do. Funny thing is that Rosie likes to do some of the same things that kindergarten and first graders like to do.

The other classes all had a trickier task. They had to see the world from a different point of view. This might sound pretty abstract, but when I held up a yellow, #2 pencil and introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Pencil. You all use me and my brothers and sisters and cousins all the time, but you don’t know anything about what my live is like. Well let me tell you. I started off as a big, beautiful tree.

The story continues from there as I spell out how difficult life is for a pencil like me. “They push my nose against my friend paper, and sometimes they break me and stick me in a horrible grinding machine,” and from there on things get worse and worse.

The students quickly caught on and wrote as if they were chairs, bikes, basketballs and all kinds of other inanimate objects.  So we also talked about animation.

On the last day there were more Rosie stories from the younger students while grades 2-6 made up tall tales. These were all in the guise of being excuses for why they couldn’t do their homework or their chores at home. I seeded this idea by telling them that I couldn’t prepare the project I was planning on doing with them because when I visited what I thought was the Fifth Connecticut Lake – Pittsburg is right up there at the source of the Connecticut River – my car was catapulted back into the woods and I landed in a village of moose. And from there things got crazier.

It was fun to watch the kids, who believed me at first, finally figure out that it was a story. And believe me, their stories were just as tall as mine.

Here are some examples. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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